WASHINGTON – At the House office lottery Friday,when new representatives kissed,moonwalked and cartwheeled,Rep.-elect Derek Kilmer,D-Wash.,walked up to draw his number without putting on a show.
After drawing No. 65 out of 70,he’s glad he didn’t make a big public display.
“It’s fine. For me,it’s just important that we are in a position where folks can find us and where we can get good work done,” Kilmer said. “I’m pretty easygoing about these sorts of things. We’ll make it work.”
Kilmer and other freshmen members of Congress participated in the lottery near the end of two weeks of orientation. Incumbent members chose new offices earlier based on seniority,generally leaving smaller offices farther away from the Capitol for newcomers. Members of the 113th Congress will be sworn in Jan. 3.
Having drawn such a low number,Kilmer did not bother to look at available offices Friday. Rather than explore the corridors of the Cannon and Longworth House Office Buildings,he met with his designated aide,Meadow Johnson,to discuss congressional health-care plans.
“It seems like the 65 best offices will have been selected,so we’ll try to find the best of the five left,” Kilmer said before making a final office selection.
Kilmer won’t be the only Gig Harbor native working in the capital. Johnson served as an aide for Kilmer during his term as a Washington state senator and said she will continue working for him during his term in the House of Representatives.
Johnson said Kilmer chose a fourth floor office,1429 Longworth House Office Building,measuring in at 842 square feet. It’s in the middle of the building,meaning his walk to the Capitol for votes won’t be as long as those who got offices in the back.
Despite the small space,Kilmer said his most important work won’t be behind his desk.
“My disposition isn’t to spend a tremendous amount of time in my office,” Kilmer said. “It’ll be doing votes,working in committees,working on issues – and being in the district,trying to be available to folks.”
Other representatives made a less modest appearance at the lottery.
Allison Jaslow,an aide who picked for Rep.-elect Cheri Bustos, D-Il.,did a cartwheel before drawing No. 10 – to much applause. Rep.-elect Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.,did a moonwalk dance before choosing No. 34 out of the box.
Despite the cramped quarters,Kilmer said he’s just happy to represent Washington’s 6th District.
“I’m excited because I just feel very lucky to be able to come here and work for the people I’ll be representing. And I’m going to wake up every morning,excited to go to work in whatever office we’re in.”
Looking back at his days on the campaign trail,Kilmer said he’s happy to stay in one place for now.
“I really enjoyed the process. I put 34,000 miles on my car,driving to every nook and cranny of my district,” Kilmer said,“I’m pleased to be done with the job interview process,and I’m excited to start the job.
Kilmer said the orientation week briefings for freshman representatives have helped prepare him for the job ahead.
“Some of it is administrative – going and doing payroll and benefits – and some of it is important things like ethics training,to make sure we know what the rules are,” Kilmer said. “Some of it is more policy focused. We got a briefing on the whole fiscal cliff conversation.”
Kilmer said the freshman class of representatives was given a broad overview of what the offices look like before the lottery.
“A lot of the conversations are on committee assignments,and that’s honestly where I’ve been spending most of my attention. Where I have the greatest interest is on making sure that regardless of where the work gets done,that we’re in a position to do good work,” Kilmer said. “The good news is that there are a lot of committees where I feel I can make a good difference. My background is in economic development,so I’m certainly hopeful I’ll be put on a committee where I can work for jobs.”
Reach reporter Jory Heckman at [email protected] or 202-326-9868. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.